Creating a Church Style Guide, Part 2

July 31, 2008 by

This is part two of an irregular and indefinite journey. Follow Associate Editor Joshua Cody as he works to get a style guide together for his church.

Last time we talked, we were in the early planning phases of getting together a church style guide. This is how I see the whole process playing out:

  • Early planning: Getting the team on board for the process.
  • Mid-planning: Getting feedback on what a style guide should include and how you can help your team.
  • Final planning: Determining the final content of the style guide.
  • Implementation: Delivering the final style guide to your team by whatever avenues work best for them.


Right now, we’re certainly in phase 2. The summer slump and a wedding have slowed the process down, but we’re still moving forward.

Here are some of the issues we’ve decided to address in the style guide:

  • How we refer to different locations on Sunday.
  • Standards for writing the time and date.
  • Common spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  • When to use a designer/copywriter.
  • Buzz words we use and others we avoid.
  • An “official” set of colors, fonts and graphics.
  • Guidelines for e-mail signatures.
  • General tips for better communication.

Next, it’s back to e-mailing our team to dip in to their knowledge of places they’ve seen these things go wrong. Then we’ll pool all of their answers together in order to move on to the stage of determining the final content of the style guide.

It’s difficult not to rush things here. It’s much more exciting to imagine how we will package and deliver this or how to present it in an innovative way than it is to gather data about common errors. But it’s very important, especially the first time through, to present a truly valuable tool to your team. Anything less than a very helpful resource, and this generation of team members at your church might be put off on the prospect of working with a style guide.

So onward the process goes, with slow and steady winning the race.

Is there anything you’ve wished was in a style guide? Or you’ve wished wasn’t? I’m sure we’ve missed some things, and style guides everywhere could benefit from a strong conversation here.

Post By:

Joshua Cody


Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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4 Responses to “Creating a Church Style Guide, Part 2”

  • Alvalyn Lundgren
    July 31, 2008

    I have designed the weekly bulletin for my church for several years. It’s a high-end piece, printed 4/1. The covers are printed in quantity to last for a couple of months. The interior changes every week.
    We had to deal with these style issues from the outset for the bulletin. It’s been somewhat evolutionary since we can’t foresee every issue up front.
    One thing that might be added a standard/criteria for photos. We use a lot of photos (I’m the primary photographer as well as the designer) and I have strict criteria for shooting for bulletin photos. We also have standards of appearance – such as no one under 18 appearing in the bulletin unless they’re alongside a parent; people have to be smiling, and no funky hand gestures…


  • Matt Holley
    July 31, 2008

    We have implemented several different style guidelines for various publications. One of the major ones was using one font and one font only for all body text. We chose Myriad Pro, but that’s only because I like its form and function.
    I appreciated reading this because it brought to light some things that were hidden in the dark crevices of the church. I agree that you can never foresee all the issues you may have, but putting a group together that has the ability to see much farther than one person, is a great idea for anyone to use.


  • Brian Klassen
    August 1, 2008

    I am a big believer in style guides. I am an even bigger believer in the use of style guides. That may sound obvious – but it isn’t.
    I have produced many style guides in my time that have been semi followed or even worse, ignored all together. I have also seen many great style guides (have covered every issue – and made issues out of non issues) produced by smarter and more talented people than myself quickly fall into non use.
    One of the biggest reasons for this is complexity and sheer volume. What I have found to work fairly well (still looking for the Holy Grail) is the balance between the legalistic approach and communicating clearly the essence of the brand and how that should influence all communications efforts.


  • Brian Klassen
    August 1, 2008

    I am a big believer in style guides. I am an even bigger believer in the use of style guides. That may sound obvious – but it isn’t.
    I have produced many style guides in my time that have been semi followed or even worse, ignored all together. I have also seen many great style guides (have covered every issue – and made issues out of non issues) produced by smarter and more talented people than myself quickly fall into non use.
    One of the biggest reasons for this is complexity and sheer volume. What I have found to work fairly well (still looking for the Holy Grail) is the balance between the legalistic approach and communicating clearly the essence of the brand and how that should influence all communications efforts.



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